Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED Programme)

Relaunch of productivity for regional growth and cohesion


 24-27 August 2021Bolzano, Italy & Virtual | CALL FOR PAPERS (deadline 30 March 2021)

OECD Spatial Productivity Lab and Politecnico di Milano special session at the 60th ERSA Congress on "Territorial Futures - Visions and scenarios for a resilient Europe" 


Productivity is the main determinant of living standards. Economies that are more productive generate greater ability to support and enhance wellbeing of their citizens via higher incomes, better infrastructure, more services and improved sustainability of welfare systems. As productivity growth in the OECD countries slows down, while the subnational productivity disparities are on the rise, the regional dimension of productivity comes to the fore.
The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has further underscored the importance of the spatial dimension both for the spread of the disease and the ability of places to cope. As world returns to “normal”, a renewed attention is needed to the ways of empowering all regions to recover, to grow and to use the opportunities opened by the pandemic for reducing inequalities.

Why spatial dimension matters

Current productivity discourse, both in academia and policy-making, predominantly revolves around national and sectoral (or industry-level) productivity determinants. From international comparisons, we know a great deal about the aggregate drivers of productivity growth. We know relatively little about the role played by places and regions in defining their own productivity performance. Due to their general scope, current national policies based on aggregate research are unlikely to effectively stimulate regional productivity growth and to decrease interregional inequality by leveraging regional and local assets. To devise successful subnational and place-based policies, a deeper understanding of the spatial dimension of productivity is needed. The urgency of such knowledge further increases during and in the aftermath of the global pandemic, which had a devastating social and economic impact on all types of places and can further exacerbate existing inequalities if no efforts are made to close the gaps.

The Spatial Productivity Lab and Politecnico di Milano special session

The special session will offer a forum for research that advances our knowledge on the spatial drivers of productivity and the ways for subnational policies to facilitate productivity growth and regional catching up. We invite quality submissions that tackle the research questions suggested below (the list is not exhaustive).

  • What are the spatial patterns of productivity (recovery) during and after the pandemic?
  • Are more productive places more resilient?
  • What are (spatial) productivity implications of a massive shift to teleworking?
  • What is the role of entrepreneurship, innovation, knowledge, skills and technologies in productivity performance of regions?
  • What is the role played by infrastructure (including digital infrastructure), agglomerations and smart specialisation?
  • How industrial structure of a region shapes its productivity and what types of industrial upgrading can drive regional productivity growth?
  • What are the spatial productivity implications of participation in GVCs?
  • How governance structure influences regional productivity performance?
  • What can local and regional policymakers do to enhance balanced productivity growth?
  • How to make productivity growth more inclusive as relates to people, firms and/or places?  


More Information

Call for papers

Please submit your paper via ERSA website by March 30, 2021, please choose S09. 

If you would like to discuss your contribution and session participation, please email



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The OECD Spatial Productivity Lab


Politecnico di Milano 



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